Around 10 years ago, our good friend Judy Anderson turned us on to the wonderful Moomintroll series written by Finnish author Tove Jansson.  Eberle & I have read — & love—them all.  For quite some time, we’d also discussed with Judy the possibility of her adapting one of these books for the stage, with Eberle & I providing the  soundtrack.  It seems that almost from the very start we all settled on Moominpappa at Sea (the next-to-last book in the series) as the story we wanted to do.

We all were involved in other projects, however—Eberle & I with the Alice in Wonder Band, then later Five & Dime Jazz & the Shipman films; Judy with all her many Alpine Playhouse pursuits.  Finally in 2007 we decided we weren’t getting any younger (we actually sort of knew that beforehand), & targeted ’08 as the year to produce
Moominpappa at Sea as the Alpine Playhouse’s summer production.   Gayle Dixon, an extraordinary worker with fabrics, papier-maché, & lots of other media for costumes & props, also joined the project.  Gayle has a long history of creating costumes, masks, & props for Judy’s Alpine Playhouse productions, including ones we’ve been involved with, such as Alice in Wonderland & Rootabaga Stories.

The project was generously supported by the Idaho Commission on the Arts & the National Endowment for the Arts, & also has been helped by the McCall Finnish Ladies Aid Society. 

The play was performed at the Alpine Playhouse, McCall, Idaho, July 24-July 26 & July 30-August 2 2008.
Our favorite playhouse, at sea
Moominpappa: Dana Parker
Moominmamma: Wavey Tuck
Moomintroll: Eddie Allen
Little My: Vivienne Wiegers
The Groke: Stormy Allen
The Fisherman: Nate Thrash
Seahorse: Rachel Thurman
Seahorse: Elizabeth Bennett
Seahorse: Irene Shaver

Stage Manager: Sean Kirkpatrick
Lighting Tech: Jason Kemp
Set Construction: Galen Shaver
Background Painting: Deb Fachin
Other Painting & Construction: Irene Shaver, Stormy Allen, Lin Lewinski
Costumes: Gayle Dixon & Family
Poster Jeanne Meyer
Program & Tickets: Liz Warner
Music: Eberle Umbach & John Hayes
Director: Judy Anderson
Finnish writer Tove Jansson (1914-2001) is probably best known for her delightful series of “Moomin” books.  She began the series in 1939 with “The Moomins & the Great Flood” (published in 1945); Jansson said she wanted to write something “naïve and innocent” in reaction to World War II.   The Moomin series consists of nine novels—the last, “Moominvalley in November” being written in 1970—as well as a collection of stories (“Tales from Moominvalley”) & four picture books: “The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My” (1952), “Who will Comfort Toffle?” (1960), “The Dangerous Journey” (1977), & “An Unwanted Guest” (1980).  Jansson was also an accomplished illustrator who not only provided drawings for her own works, but also illustrated other classics in their Swedish translations (although Jansson was Finnish, she was part of the Swedish-speaking minority in that country); among these were “The Hobbit” & “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

“Moominpappa at Sea” was the penultimate novel in the series; it was written in 1965.  The book, like “Moominvalley in November” &  “Tales from Moominvalley,” is a departure from the lighter mood of the earlier Moomin books, & depicts a family in crisis as the Moomins move from their beloved Moominvalley to a deserted island in the sea, where they occupy a lighthouse that doesn’t work.  However, Jansson is able to turn this story into a compelling tale of redemption.
Here are several mp3's of music Eberle & I created for the play.  Hope you enjoy!

Picnic Dance
(accordion: Eberle)

Moominmamma's Painted Garden
(piano: Eberle)

Island Music
(steel drum: Eberle)

The Mandocello Song
(mandocello: John)

The Revenge of the Forgotten Bones
(6-string bouzouki: John)

Finn Family Moomintroll
(baritone uke: John; marimba: Eberle)

The Groke's First Dance
(electric guitar: John; cocktail drum kit: Eberle)

Of course, all songs are © Plum Alley Productions 2007-2008.